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3 die in French firing and hostage-taking; attacker killed

3 die in French firing and hostage-taking; attacker killed

TRBES: At least three people were killed on Friday when a man claiming allegiance to the militant Islamic State group went on a shooting spree and held people hostage in a supermarket in southwest France before being shot dead by police.

“Our country has suffered an Islamist terrorist attack,” President Emmanuel Macron said in a televised address.

Five people were also shot and injured, two of them in a critical condition, a source close to the investigation said.

A police officer who took the place of a female hostage is “fighting for his life”, Macron added, hailing the man as a hero.

“He saved lives and honoured his colleagues and his country.”

The other man in a critical condition is the driver of a car hijacked by the attacker named as Radouane Lakdim.

Militant Islamic State group claims responsibility

Lakdim, a drug dealer monitored as a possible Islamist extremist, carried out three separate shootings in the medieval town of Carcassonne and in nearby Trebes where he ended his rampage by taking hostages at a supermarket.

“We had monitored him and did not think he had been radicalised. He was already under surveillance when he suddenly decided to act,” Interior Minister Gerard Collomb told reporters after flying to the scene.

Said by security sources to have Moroccan nationality, Lakdim first hijacked a car in Carcassonne, killing a passenger and injuring the driver, before shooting and injuring a policeman who was out jogging with colleagues.

He then drove to a supermarket in Trebes, shouting “Allahu Akbar” as he stormed in, a witness reported.

There he killed another two people and took hostages for more than three hours.

Most of the hostages managed to escape but Lakdim kept one woman back as a human shield.

The heroic officer offered to take her place while police negotiated with Lakdim, who asked for unidentified prisoners to be released.

Lakdim shot the policeman, prompting elite anti-terror officers to swoop on the building and shoot the attacker dead.

IS claimed that the attack was in response to its call to target Western enemies.

Published in Dawn, March 24th, 2018

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